Monday, July 14, 2003

I had an awesome weekend. Six Flags over New Orleans had a concert featuring Mary Mary and several other gospel groups on Saturday. It was good to have so many people together in fellowship gettin' their "praise on." Last year when the park was "Jazzland" - nothing special ever happened. Now that it has the Six Flags logo attached, it has been able to attract some great artists - and Christian artists at that. Already I've seen Audio Adrenaline, Mercy Me and Jars of Clay perform at the park. Can't top that for one season.

Another great note.. Only two weeks left at work! Today I began training the paralegal who will take my position after I leave. Its pretty amazing how complicated things have gotten. I'm optimistic that the new paralegal will be able to learn the bulk of what needs to be done.

Lots of new things going on. Locally it appears we have another hurricane in the Gulf. Will it ever end? Fortunately for our region, it appears that it won't hit Louisiana. Unfortunately for Texas it appears headed their way.

Annoying Issue of the Moment: New Orleans Public Schools. They are falling down. The students are underperforming at high levels. The administrators and employees are stealing money to the tune of $20-$30 million a year. To those problems few complain. But today it was announced that changes would be made, namely the demoting of principals and the lawyers come out of the woodworks to protest the principals' rights. What about the students' rights to a better education? The school system is collapsing and this is the only issue that is focused on. Unbelievable.

Legal-Term-of-the-Day: contra bonas mores- against public morals.
Example: The condition of the New Orleans Public School System is contra bonas mores.

Bible-Verse-of-the-Day: "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abided in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." I John 4:24 KJV

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The past couple of days have been great. I turned 22 over the weekend *yay* and have been spending time with friends and family, as such I took a break from the 'blawg'. But hopefully I'll get back to churning out entries like crazy.

The time is winding down though, only a few weeks left until law school begins! Unfortunately I think that the attorneys at work have conspired to give me as much work as possible before I go.
I took the day off Monday and already I feel like I need another day. :/
On a good note I went shopping (again) - I convinced myself that as an up-and-coming attorney I will need lots of nice suits so I have to start now.. a whole three years in advance, lol.

Legal-Term-of-the-Day: escheat - money turned over to the state; occurs when people die intestate (without a will) and are survived by no spouse and no kindred.

Bible-Verse-of-the-Day: "O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good for his mercy endureth forever." Psalm 118:29 KJV

Friday, July 04, 2003

Happy 4th of July

Today was just a relaxing day spent at home with my family. I have heard the results of several surveys asking if Americans are more or less patriotic this year than in the past? My answer – I’m more patriotic than ever. Knowing the situations elsewhere in the world and the freedoms we enjoy here, including the freedom to dissent, how can one not be feel proud and blessed to be here?

On a relaxed day like today, I was not in the mood to digest any heavy legal content so I elected to search out some legal humor instead. Ever thought about suing Satan? What about suing yourself? If those thoughts have crossed your mind The Guide to Wacky Court Cases is a great resource on legal lunacy. The cases mentioned there were so unbelievable that I had to check them out on Westlaw… and yep, they are genuine. Just a reminder that people really can sue anyone for anything and in most states the party is entitled to at least one right of appeal to have their case heard by a higher court. Oh, the stories judges must have to tell. Only in America :P

Legal-term-of-the-Day: sua sponte– of his or her own will or motion; without request. Example: The court may dismiss a frivolous lawsuit on sua sponte motion.

Bible-Verse-of-the-Day: “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

LA Criminal Law 101: Can’t Plead Guilty…

It appears that accused serial killer, Derrick Todd Lee, plead not guilty today at his arraignment. However, his plea sparked a question today on a local radio station with host, David Tyree. The question - Could Lee have plead guilty? The debate raged on with no definitive answer so I decided to do some research of my own.

My Findings? Lee probably could not have plead guilty at the arraignment stage because the prosecution is seeking the death penalty. Courts have consistently held that the death penalty sentence must be decided by a jury.
Louisiana’s Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 557 states that the defendant may not make an “unqualified plea of guilty in a capital case.” However, if the court and state agree, the defendant may plead guilty but the sentence imposed must be life imprisonment without parole. In the alternative, the court may impanel a jury to sentence the defendant.

In other words it appears the most expedient thing for the judge to do is only accept not guilty pleas in capital cases. If he or she does not, they must either sentence the defendant to life or select a jury to decide death or life. Moreover, sentencing hearings, especially in death penalty cases, are like mini-trials in which both sides produce evidence on why the defendant should die or live. The evidence and witnesses needed are normally uncovered during the discovery phase prior to the trial. Without the pre-trial discovery it would be nigh impossible for both sides to present evidence for the jury. It is also important to remember that the determination of whether someone should die or live is a paramount decision. Consequently, I am of the belief that only a jury who has heard the facts in their entirety at trial is competent to decide the sentence to be imposed upon a defendant.

Legal-Term-of-the-Day: Nolle prosequi – no prosecution; Option that may be exercised by the District Attorney. It has the effect of dismissing the case; however, the D.A. may re-instate the charges within a certain time period as allowed by law.

Bible-Verse-of-the-Day: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 KJV

Monday, June 30, 2003

Trying to stay dry…

Tropical Storm Bill hit the area on today. Lots of wind and rain, but thankfully it appears there were no fatalities. I decided to leave the office early today so I ended up working from home. Bates-labeling and reviewing documents sure makes the day fly by! :P

Movie-recommendation-of-the-moment: Evelyn. I saw it for the first time on today. I had never heard of the film until it was recommended to me by my parents so I thought I’d spread the word. Without being too much of a spoiler here’s the summary: The film is based upon a true story that occurred in Ireland in the 1950s. It involves a father, Desmond Doyle, who has to use the legal system to gain custody of his children. As a background note, during this time period the Catholic Church and the legal system were intricately tied, so the film also involves Doyle having to reconcile religion and the law. Doyle’s case proves to be a landmark case in Irish family law and greatly extended the right’s of a father to his children.
The film has a nice blend of family law and religion. The only thing I can say lacking was a documentary that fleshed out the real story. I watched some of the bonus footage of the DVD but it discussed more of the movie production rather than the actual story behind it. So of course I’m anxious to know more… I plan to research more about Doyle and the Supreme Court of Ireland’s opinion. I will post my findings.

Ironically, Evelyn takes place in the 1950s, yet presently in the US we have a disparity in how fathers are treated in our legal system. The argument that children need a maternal influence more than a paternal one is persuasive but misguided. “The best interest of the child” – the standard used by many jurisdictions, should reflect the need for both parents and not just presume that custody should go to the mother. In the fight for women’s rights, I believe the rights of men have in some instances been overridden in this area.

I think one area that is ripe for the Supreme Court to handle would be the father’s right in the abortion debate. Is not part of the being inside the mother also a part of him? If a fetus is a thing, could joint ownership be claimed? Things that make you go “hmmm.” I have heard of a case or two involving this premise, but they were each resolved before getting to the Supreme Court. If you want the court to have to come up with a better argument for Roe v. Wade the rights of the father could be a good way to start.

Legal-Term-of-the-Day: putative spouses - persons who in good faith think that they are legally married but they are not.

Bible-Verse-of-the-Day: "As long as I am in the world, I am light of the world." John 9:5 KJV

Sunday, June 29, 2003

As usual, on today I attended church. Service was nice. The gist of the message - working with the abilities (and disabilities) of others to create the best for the Lord. There's a scripture that pertains to that issue that comes to mind, I think that will be the Bible Verse of the Day.

From a legal aspect, the week has flown by and there is a lot to discuss:

Legal Recap of the Week

The Supreme Court passed decisive opinions on two controversial issues, Affirmative Action and Gay Rights.

Affirmative Action

In Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger the Court clarified its stance on affirmative action. The cases dealt with the policy as it was used at Michigan University and Michigan University's Law School.

In Gratz, the Court held that Michigan's undergraduate point system in which it awarded minority students twenty points in the application process simply for being a minority was unconstitutional. However, in Grutter, the court found that the policy of Michigan's Law School, in which minority status is a consideration, was within the realm of constitutionality. The court agreed that there is a compelling interest in promoting racial diversity. Notably, the court predicted that within twenty-five years the use of affirmative action would be obsolete.

As a minority student, I understand the dilemma facing the nation. I once read an author who said, "A colorblind nation produces a colorless result." By that he meant that if we were to remove some of the institutions that have been put into place for minorities (colorblind mentality) then the result would be less minorities and in many instances an all-white arena (colorless society). Although this quote was made in regards to voting and minority districting, it is still applicable here. Unfortunately, there still remains a large chasm between the educational systems of many whites versus non-whites. On that we can all agree. But the answer is a bit more shady. Should we ignore the issue and let the gap grow more - or should we correct the injustice by perhaps creating another injustice?

I have teetered on the issue. I think one possible solution is to focus on the economic hardships of the person, regardless of race. No matter how we choose to address the issue, one thing that we must realize is that hard affirmative action policies can hurt minorities more than help them. Instead of money being spent to recruit minority students, this money could be spent to better educate them at the offset. A society that seeks only to promote minorities without equipping with the tools for them to succeed is blind. In my ideal society, all affirmative action policies must teach minorities to affirm to take action to better themselves and the future.

Gay Rights

The court struck down sodomy laws in the US. From a legal standpoint, the move made sense. If homosexuality is not illegal, why then ban the acts? In many cases it was merely a way to harass gays.

From a moral standpoint, I have not found the decision problematic either so I do not quite understand the outcry against it. For example, many people believe that adultery is an amoral sexual act. But should the US government fine and/or jail those who engage in those acts? I think no sexual act (between consenting adults) should be above another under the law. If adultery isn't regulated, neither should gay acts be.
That is not to say that I support homosexual acts, I do not. I do, however, agree that people should be treated equally under the law.
The more interesting debate that the Supreme Court's decision has spurred is other gay rights such as marriage and adopting children.

Legal Term of the Day: mandamus - an extraordinary writ issued by a superior court to a lower court, executive body, administrative body, or the like, commanding the performance of a particular act.

Bible Verse of the Day: "...But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that." 1 Corinthians 7:7b KJV
see also 1 Corinthians 12 which discusses the diversity of the gifts which alone may seem insignificant, but are vital to the body of believers.

Saturday, June 29 - Part II

Saturday was largely uneventful. I don't think I went outside at all. Just got lots and lots of R and R. My good friend Kelly invited me to go see "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" but I declined. Although I had slept all day, I felt as if I might get another nap in if I went to see that flick. :P I recently saw the first Charlie's Angels and thought it was 'okay' so I may just wait for part two on video.
So instead of going to the movies I decided to stay home and rest some more. But my law book called to me and so I had to do some reading. "But law school hasn't started yet," you say. Yes, let me explain. Loyola has two weeks of orientation prior to law school and we have an assignment for the first day of orientation. I guess that is to prepare us for our regular law classes that probably will also have assignments for the first day.
The book I have to read is called Introduction to Legal Method and Process by Berch, Berch and Sprizter. Right now I am on the portion of the book dealing with case law. Actual quote from the book "Now the first thing you are to do with an opinion is to read it." WOW, really? lol. After laughing I read on. The next thing the book says: "Does this amuse you? There is no reason why it should amuse you." The authors are psychic. The book goes on to clarify that legal reading is not like everyday reading. If you don't know the meaning of a word you don't just read on faster, you stop to look it up. That is very true, in normal reading you can sometimes discern the meaning of a word from the context of the sentence. In law this is rarely the case. So tip number one: read (and try to comprehend) each word.
Before even reading this part of the book I had decided to invest in a law dictionary - I already have Black's Law Dictionary - 6th ed. But there's a 7th ed. so I want it! But the whole dictionary bit has given me an idea - everyday (or at least every post) I will put up a legal term of the day. And just because I can I will also put in a Bible verse of the day. So now you can be entertained, learn the law, and get some spiritual food all in one stop. Ya can't ask for more. :)

Legal Term of the Day: Nisi prius– trial court (as distinguished from an appeals court).

Bible Verse of the Day: “Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24 KJV

Saturday, June 28, 2003

On second thought....
I don't think the open disclosure thing is going to work. If I want to feel free to speak (well, type) candidly, I have to believe I have some degree of anonymity. So my name for the purpose of this blog is "Jo" and my nickname is "Angel".
If I wanna be a lawyer, I need to think like a lawyer. Idea One: Don't get sued for defamation of character over things said about people online. heh heh. :)

(c) http://angel-in-law.blogspot.com
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